by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- Don’t despair!
- Thanks to Daisy
- The rear sight
- RWS Hobby
- RWS R10 Match Pistol
- Sig Sauer Match Ballistic Alloy
- H&N Finale Match Pistol
- The trigger
- The verdict
Okay, this is Part 5 and I am finally ready to test the Daisy 853 10-meter target rifle for accuracy. It’s been awhile since we looked at the 853, so allow me to recap. I bought the rifle used at a good price and tested it for velocity in Part 2. That was when I learned that my rifle wasn’t quite performing up to standard, so I got some parts from Daisy and proceeded to rebuild the powerplant. It was a basic rebuild that addresses the pump piston seal, the felt wiper that holds the oil for the piston and all the inlet valve parts.
After the first rebuild the velocity was consistently around 450 f.p.s. with RWS Hobby pellets. According to the Pyramyd Air website, Daisy rates the rifle at 510 f.p.s., and I initially made the mistake of thinking that my rifle was not up to snuff yet. I ordered more parts for a more intensive overhaul, but while I waited for them to arrive I heard from 853 owners and from coaches around the country. They were all getting similar velocities from their rifles. Only reader Bulldawg76 seems to get over 500 f.p.s. from his rifle, and he has done some non-standard modifications to it.
When the new parts arrived I installed many of them. Of particular interest was the new bolt that I thought might have been a problem. But it turned out not to be. The velocity with Hobbys after the new parts were installed was still 450 f.p.s., more or less. That leads me to an observation. Maybe some Daisy 853s will shoot up to 510 f.p.s., but not all of them want to. There is no magic about that number, either. Plenty of 10-meter target air pistols do fine at 450 f.p.s. I used to compete with one! My advice is as long as your rifle is in the 400s, just use it as is. If it drops below 400 f.p.s. then I think it’s time for a rebuild.
I’m glad I rebuilt the powerplant because the felt wiper was almost disintegrated when I removed it. So it wasn’t going to last much longer. And I had to oil the piston head heavily to get over 400 f.p.s. That is when a gun needs a rebuild. Now the rifle works as it should, and the felt wiper keeps it oiled all the time without my constant attention.
Thanks to Daisy
I want to thank Daisy for their help with this article. I ordered parts 3 times from them and they always sent them for nothing. I probably could have ordered almost anything, but I don’t like to abuse generosity when it’s given, so I kept my orders to the minimum. Thank you, Daisy!
The 853 is not an easy airgun to work on. Although it does come apart and go back together as Daisy describes in their .pdf document, it takes both skill and persistence to get it together again — at least that was my experience. This is not a job I would undertake lightly, nor one I would recommend to someone new to airguns.
But now everything is done and the rifle is back working as it is supposed to. The next step is to see what she’ll do on targets. That’s what we will do today. And I also want to look at that adjustable rear peep sight more closely than I ever have before. Let’s get started!
I shot from 10 meters with the rifle rested on a sandbag. To make the stock longer I installed all 3 stock spacers.
This rifle is used, plus I have had it apart two different times and the rear sight has been off. And I replaced the front aperture insert with one that is smaller. You can’t mess around with the sights much more than that! So I wondeerd if it would even be on paper at 10 meters. But it was.
It not only was on paper, the impact point was pretty well centered when I started sighing-in with RWS Hobby pellets. But they were hitting the target about a quarter-inch too high. Now, I could find out about that rear sight!
The rear sight
My rifle came with the Daisy 5899 peep sight. It’s made of plastic and I have heard coaches cuss over that fact. But I have also seen kids win matches with the same sight. Years ago a coach told me that whenever he adjusted the sight in the opposite direction from the one it had been moving, he moved it three clicks (yes, it does have clicks, though they are not pronounced and must be felt rather than heard) to take up the slop. Then he could adjust the sight very precisely. For 20 years I thought this was private wisdom passed on by a coach with experience.
I received the manual with my new/old 853 and when I read about adjusting the rear sight I was surprised to see that warning right there in the manual! All these years I thought I knew a secret. Well, given how few guys ever read a manual, maybe I did!
I now needed to adjust the impact of the pellet down, so I looked at the elevation wheel and got another surprise. The direction of adjustment is the opposite of what I expected! I would normally turn it to the right (clockwise) to move it lower. If I hadn’t looked at the arrow on the adjustment knob I would instinctively have turned the knob in the wrong direction.
The manual also actually tells you that each click moves the strike of the pellet 0.048-inches at 10 meters. If that’s not precision, I don’t know what is!
I didn’t know the state of the rear sight when I adjusted it the first time, so I just cranked it down 5 clicks. The pellet moved down, but not far enough. Two more clicks dropped the impact just below the 10, so I now had an opportunity to adjust the sight in the opposite direction from the one in which it had been moving. I adjusted it up 1 click, expecting it to not move, but it did. The rifle was now sighted in perfectly for the RWS Hobby pellet.
The top group holds 7 pellets, including 2 that were fired after the rear sight was adjusted. I adjusted the sight one time (5 clicks down), which dropped the pellet lower, but not low enough. Two more clicks down gave me the bottom group.
After adjusting the rear sight up 1 click, I moved to a different target and put the first shot through the 10-ring. I decided to leave the sights there and I finished the 5-shot group with 4 more shots. Total group size for 5 Hobbys measures 0.195. That’s pretty darn good for a non-target pellet!
RWS R10 Match Pistol
Next I tried 5 RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets. These have 4.50mm heads, and no, I did not sort them with the PelletGage. One test at a time is enough! Five pellets went into 0.247-inches at 10 meters. Not as good as the Hobbys.
Sig Sauer Match Ballistic Alloy
Next I tried some Sig Sauer Match Ballistic Alloy pellets. I didn’t try these during the velocity test, but I got sidetracked by the need to fix (I thought) the powerplant and really only tested the gun with Hobbys. This pellet is lighter than a Hobby — at 5.25 grains, so we expect it to go to a different place on the target — probably higher. And that’s exactly what it did.
Five Sig target pellets went into 0.25-inches at 10 meters. Yes, that is exactly a quarter-inch! I don’t plan this stuff — it just happens and I write it down as I go.
H&N Finale Match Pistol
I tried H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets next. I tried the ones with 4.50mm heads. Five of them went into a well-centered group that measures 0.152-inches between centers. This looks like a pellet to use in this rifle.
The last pellet I tried in the 853 on this day was the Vogle from Pilkguns. This one also has a 4.50mm head. Five went into 0.155-inches at 10 meters — almost identical to what the Finale Match did.
The trigger is one of the known drawbacks of the 853. The pull is long and creepy. The test rifle trigger breaks at between 4 lbs. 6 oz. and 4 lbs. 12 oz., with an average of 4 lbs. 8 oz. Of course it is very possible to modify the trigger for a lighter letoff, but that involves disassembling the rifle. Like a woman who has just given birth, I want to avoid doing that for a while. Let’s just enjoy what we have, shall we? I do have the parts and I probably will get around to doing it, but let me take a breather.
As expected, the Daisy 853 turned in a great accuracy test. For the price there is nothing on the market to match it — at least not that I am aware of.
The trigger is rough and heavy, but it’s not so bad that it spoils the accuracy. Pumping is heavy but easy enoiugh for an adult, if not for a kid.
All said and done, the 853 is a wonderful target rifle. Yes, technology has passed it by, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still hold its own. Tens of thousands of them are still doing just that!